London 18th-Century Postgraduate Reading Group: ‘Resentment & Regard in Low-Life’, 11 March 2016

London 18th-Century Postgraduate Reading Group, 11th March – Resentment & Regard in Low-Life (1750)

When: 12.30pm, Friday 11th March
Where: Room 112, School of Arts, Birkbeck, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

The London 18th-Century Postgraduate Reading Group is a student-run reading group organised in collaboration with the Centre for Enlightenment Studies at King’s and Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group. Staff and students at all London universities are very welcome.

The reading group concentrates on a different theme each academic year, with an emphasis on primary texts and recent criticism. The theme for what’s left of this year will be ‘Resentment and Regard’. More about the theme can be found on the reading group’s blog here.

In this year’s first session we will be discussing excerpts from Low-Life: Or, One Half of the World Knows not how The Other Half Lives (London, ?1750, 1754, 1764) – a fictional hour-by-hour documentary account of a putatively specific day in London.  We will concentrate on hours I-III (pp. 1-19), VI-XI (pp. 27-51), and XIX-XX (pp. 80-87).

The 1764 ‘Third Edition’ of Low-Life has an engraved frontispiece depicting a relaxing Saint Monday. Low-Life’s writer announces in the prefatory address to Hogarth that the book is modelled on Hogarth’s Four Times of the Day series (1736, 1738).  So, for the first session, we will be looking closely at the frontispiece and Hogarth’s images along side the written text.

Topics for discussion might include: the relations between different modes of depiction and description that these materials signal; the affective loading of the point of view they indicate (or don’t); the ways of looking and accumulating knowledge that they model; how they encourage their readers and viewers to think about the lower classes, work, and holidays; and their differently oblique engagements with narrative in the service of enjoyment, social description, and moral correction.

For optional critical material which engages some of these questions in relation to Low-Life, see: Carolyn Steedman, ‘Cries Unheard, Sights Unseen: Writing the Eighteenth-Century Metropolis’, Representations, 118.1 (2012), 28-71.

The 1764 ‘3rd Edition’ of Low-Life  (including a poor-quality version of the frontispiece) is available on Historical Texts here.  A clearer image of a nineteenth-century copy of the 1764 frontispiece can be found on the National Library of Congress website here.  Lastly, images of Hogarth’s engravings after his Four Times of the Day paintings are available on the British Museum website: Morning, Noon, Evening, and Night.

On the 11th, we will also be talking about what we want to look at in further meetings of the reading group. So, if you have suggestions for primary materials in any format, or recent scholarship that has a bearing on the theme of the group, then please come along to the first session and share these ideas, or email suggestions to Robert Stearn and James Morland.

Ideas so far include: gender and resentment in 17th- and 18th-century engagements with translations of Lucretius and philosophical atomism; resentment and charlatanism in the 18th-century literary marketplaces; the mutual resentment of Swift and Pope and the suspiciousness of inauthentic resentment adopted as a literary persona; regarding ‘The Dark Side of the Landscape’.

For further information (and for copies of the readings if you cannot access them through your institution), please contact Robert Stearn ( or James Morland (

. . Category: Archived Events . Tags: , ,